April 02, 2018

Trying Out My Sea Legs For the Day

Some might say that in LA, you're either a beach person or not a beach person.

But here, "beach" exclusively refers to the Pacific Ocean and the saltwater that laps up upon the shore when the tide comes in.

Never mind any beaches you may find along rivers or around lakes. Those don't count, apparently.

But there are certain areas where saltwater and freshwater converge. They don't repel one another; they simply intermingle.

And Southern California is full of these estuaries.

I decided to kayak one of them on Easter Sunday.

Why not? It had been about a year since I'd paddled Los Cerritos Wetlands and several months since I'd skimmed the surface of Big Bear Lake.

I'm not much of a beachgoer or seafarer, so I don't find myself visiting our beach cities very often—but this inland, freshwater-dwelling woman was wooed by the white cliffs and a conservation success story of Upper Newport Bay.

Like much of the rest of Newport Beach, this part of the bay had been slated for development by the Irvine Company until one of the residents nearby protested.

Now, most of the traffic you get here is from the "Mountains to the Sea Trail and Bikeway" and, of course the birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.

From the Western grebe (Aechmophorus occidentals) to coots, gulls, and Least terns, these waterways can get pretty busy even when the tide is high and winter migration is nearly over.

Not to mention the nesting ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), which have been successfully breeding in this area of Orange County for the last dozen or so years after a nearly century-long hiatus. We spotted two little heads popping out of one nest on a manmade platform (built for that purpose) by the  Back Bay Science Center.

There were just seven of us out there—a family of four in two tandem kayaks, two guides, and myself in a single seater—paddling against the wind, fighting the tide, and trying not to veer off into the prohibited side waterways.

I saw several pieces of trash, but I only managed to scoop up one discarded water bottle.

I didn't fall out, which is always a victory.

I survived two hours and somewhere between two and three miles.

And, per usual, I got sunburned on my legs—despite the overcast morning—because I neglected to apply sunscreen.

It was a good Sunday—and I'm still sore from it, in more ways than one.

Related Posts:
Kayaking the Salton Sea
Photo Essay: Go With the River
Photo Essay: Follow the River
Plenty of Room to Paddle
Paddling Downstream
My Turn to Paddle
Photo Essay: Bronx River Estuary Paddle

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